My Silver Lining of 2020

Photo Credit: Frank Gutierrez, https://www.frank-gutierrez.com/

On this first anniversary of the day COVID-19 changed my life, I share my silver lining of 2020.

Friday, March 13, 2020, I was furloughed, then permanently laid off a couple of months later from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone due to the COVID-19 shutdown. I was the professional wine tutor for the Master’s Degree in Wine Management; Bachelor’s Degree Concentration in Advanced Wine, Beverage, and Hospitality, and the Associate Degree programs. It was a great part-time gig because my work at the CIA 20 hours per week supported my freelance writing.

I wrote a bio for a Naked Wines winemaker who subsequently referred me to another winemaker, Matt Parish, for writing assistance. I contacted Matt to find out what he needed. He saw my résumé and said, “You are overqualified for what I need, someone to reply daily to the Naked Wines customers who buy my wines.” I told him I was interested in assisting even if I was overqualified. We scheduled a phone interview for May 18, which was the day the CIA officially and permanently laid me off. During our call, I told him what happened. He said, “I don’t want you to make a decision today. Take a few days and let me know.”

A couple of days later, I emailed him to confirm interest. He interviewed me again via Zoom and we agreed to work together. He back paid me to May 18, the day I was laid off, even though I did not begin until a couple of weeks later. In that moment, I realized what a compassionate human he was, not just a winemaker and business person. Although he has 25+ years of wine business experience as a senior winemaker at Constellation, Treasury, Naked Wines, and Lula Cellars, he is a kind and generous person. In my mind, that sets him apart from many of his industry peers.

Matt and I have worked together ever since. Seven months ago, I began assisting him with communications and social media. Regardless of what the future holds, I will never forget what he did for me.

Read Matt’s story in my August 2020 feature for the Napa Valley Register, “Matt Parish: Balancing the art, science and business of winemaking.”

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